“And none will hear the postman’s knock
Without a quickening of the heart.
For who can bear to feel himself forgotten?” (Auden, 1976, p.38).
“The desires of the heart are as crooked as corkscrews,
Not to be born is the best for man;
The second –best is a formal order,
The dance’s pattern; dance while you can.
Dance, dance, for the figure is easy,
The tune is catching and will not stop;
Dance till the stars come down from the rafters;
Dance, dance, dance, till you drop.” (Auden, 1976, p.64).
As he is
“Fresh lovers betray him, every day
Over his green horizon
A fresh deserter rides away,
And miles away birds mutter
Of ambush and of treason;
To fresh defeats he still must move,
To further griefs and greater,
And the defeat of grief.” (Auden, 1976, p.69).
In memory of Y.B. Yeats
“But for him it was his last afternoon as himself,
An afternoon of nurses and rumours;
The provinces of his body revolted,
The squares of his mind were empty,
Silence invaded the suburbs,
The current of his feeling failed; he became his admirers.” (Auden, 1976, p.76).
Many Happy Returns
“So I wish you first a
Sense of theatre; only
Those who love illusion
And know it will go far:
Otherwise we spend our
Lives in a confusion
Of what we say and do with
Who we really are.” (Auden, 1976, p.117).
“What limping devil sets our
Head and heart at variance,
That each time the Younger
The old and wheather-beaten
Deny their own experience
And pray the gods to send them
Calm seas, auspicious gales?” (Auden, 1976, p.119).
“Love without desiring
All that you are not.” (Auden, 1976, p.120).
“Without a name or history I wake
Between my body and the day.” (Auden, 1976, p.196).
“I draw breah; that is of course to wish
No matter what, to be wise,
To be different, to die and the cost,
No matter how, is Paradise
Lost of course and myself owing a death.” (Auden, 1976, p.197).
The cave of making
“… Here silence
is turned into objects.” (Auden, 1976, p.209).
“… I wish you hadn’t
caught that cold, but the dead we miss are easier
to talk to: with those no longer
tensed by problems one cannot feel shy and, anyway,
when playing cards or drinking
or pulling faces are out of the question, what else is there
to do but talk to the voices
of conscience they have become? From now on, as a visitor
who needn’t be met at the station,
your influence is welcome at any hour in my ubiquity.” (Auden, 1976, p.211).
The common life
“… What draws
singular lifes together in the first place,
loneliness, lust, ambition
or mere convenience, is obvious, why they drop
or murder one another
clear enough: how they create, though, a common world
between them, like Bombelli’s
impossible yet useful numbers, no one
has yet explained. …” (Auden, 1976, p.225).
A change of air
“To go Elsewhere is to withdraw from movement;
A side-step, a short one, will convey you thither.” (Auden, 1976, p.227).
On the circuit
“Spirit is willing to repeat
Without a qualm the same old talk,
But Flesh is homesick for our snug
Apartment in New York.
A sulky fifty-six, he finds
A change of meal time utter hell,
Grown far too crotchety to like
A luxury hotel.” (Auden, 1976, p.230).
“Let your last thinks all be thanks.” (Auden, 1976, p.245).
“Knowledge may have its purposes,
but guessing is always
more fun than knowing.” (Auden, 1976, p.249).